Spies Like Us

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 12 2012 @ 5:44pm

Anne Applebaum pinpoints the source of the US's competitive disadvantage in espionage:

Unlike their Soviet predecessors, Russia’s contemporary elite openly craves the material goods of the West, and openly admires those who get them. … Clever and educated Russians will compete hard to become long-term (and heavily subsidized) residents of the American suburbs, and once they arrive they find it easy to fit in. Nowadays, there’s nothing at all unusual about a Russian accent in New Jersey. Some of the recent batch of spies, [Anna] Chapman included, never even bothered to change their names.

But the reverse is much harder to imagine: How many Americans would agree to spend twenty years in suburban Tomsk, living under deep cover (or even light cover), and how many could convincingly pretend to be Russian for that length of time?